Monday, August 20, 2007

Preseason Impressions: Steelers v. Redskins

One thing that will almost always impinge upon one's writing/blogging time is being hit by a car while cycling.

I definitely don't recommend it to any of you. However, having picked the asphalt out of my wounds I can provide the amazing insights that you have all come to expect. So without further adieu, here are four thoughts I came away with Saturday evening.

#1. The Red Zone offense left something to be desired: The Steelers had nineteen offensive plays inside the Redskins 20 line and could only come up with 12 points? The conclusion of the Steelers' final drive was especially disappointing -- appearances are almost always deceiving, but didn't it appear that Gary Russell was more than a little hesitant "hitting" the line? Of course the root of the problem was some very mediocre play by the still-evolving offensive front. Which leads seamlessly to . . .

#2. The Offensive Line is starting to scare me: Listening to Tunch Ilkin trying to guess as to why the Steelers' coaches are utilizing their offensive linemen the way they are makes me realize that if there is a method to the madness it isn't readily apparent even to those close to the team. The hope here is that a left tackle will be discovered soon -- as Ed Bouchette points out in his article Trai Essex looked horrible against Washington; but truth be told the whole unit has played rather poorly the last two weeks.

#3. Blitzing may be plan "A," but what is plan "B"?: While the starting units of both teams were on the field it seemed as though the Washington offense was able to effectively, and consistently, combat the Steelers' propensity for blitzing by passing over the blitzer. I certainly do not want to hit this point too hard (i.e. how much criticism does the defense deserve inasmuch as they gave up ten points?), but Chris Cooley (5 catches, 60 yards) probably wishes he could go up against the Steelers defense all preseason long.

#4. Daniel Sepulveda is the MAN: On four kicks the Steelers new punter averaged 50 yards per kick, and more importantly had a net average of 48.5 meaning (obviously) that the Redskins simply didn't return his kicks with any effectiveness. In three games MR. Sepulveda is averaging 46.8 yards per kick (after averaging 37.3 yards per kick in the Hall of Fame game he averaged 49.8 yards per kick versus Green Bay, and 50 versus Washington) with a net of 44.5 yards. Additionally Mr. Sepulveda is doing a good job as holder for extra points and field goals.

Like most fans I'm very conflicted when it comes to preseason. On the one hand I want to see the lesser known players play so that I can make my own assessments. On the other hand, if the game is worth playing it's worth winning. The play of the Steelers on Saturday was less than inspired, but a win -- any win -- is always a good thing.

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